The past Sunday, March 31th, the City of Milpitas held a flag-raising celebration in honor of César Chavez’s legacy and birthday. Chavez’s sister Rita Chavez Medina and his niece Barbara Medina-Aranda were present for the event, and Vice Mayor Karina Dominguez was the Master of Ceremonies.
The Vice Mayor kicked off the presentation by having the crowd repeat after her in reciting the Prayer of the Farm Workers’ Struggle (written by Chavez):
Show me the suffering of the most miserable;
So I will know my people’s plight.
Free me to pray for others;
For you are present in every person.
Help me to take responsibility for my own life;
So that I can be free at last.
Grant me courage to serve others;
For in service there is true life.
Give me honesty and patience;
So that I can work with other workers.
Bring forth song and celebration;
So that the spirit will be alive among us.
Let the spirit flourish and grow;
So we will never tire of the struggle.
Let us remember those who have died for justice;
For they have given us life.
Help us love even those who hate us;
So we can change the world.
Anurag Pal, from Assemblymember Kansen Chu’s office, came up to present a commendation to the Chavez family’s nonprofit organization. “On behalf of our office, we wanted to honor César Chavez’s legacy and his work that continues to inspire us, and inspire legislators in California…and present a commendation on behalf of Assemblymember Kansen Chu and Senator Bob Wiecowksi to the Chavez Family Vision Inc., and their continued work in our community,” said Pal. Chavez’s niece Barbara Medina-Aranda, Board President of Chavez Family Vision, Inc., came up to receive the commendation.
“I know that many of us know that César Chavez was a civil leader rights worker who fought for basic fairness, dignity for workers, and human rights. César Chavez served in the navy during World War II and returned to the fields upon his return. My remote memories of César include interactions with him at a very young age at my local church and at my father’s workplace,” said Vice Mayor Dominguez. “My father used to work for Sunshine Nursery which was a nursery that was located across the street from where César Chavez lived. It was the evening of June 9, 1952, that a stranger named Fred Ross showed up at his door and presented to him the opportunity to lead a movement in which Mexican-Americans would rise up together as one.”
“I do believe César gifted everyone he encountered with the idea that we all deserve the opportunity for upward mobility; that we all, including working class, including farm workers…deserve equal pay, deserve to work in safe places. And we deserve the ability to buy a home,” said Vice Mayor Dominguez. “César believed…he really did believe that it didn’t matter if you were black or white, short or tall, rich or poor, educated or nondedicated…he believed that all of us should be treated fairly. And that is what this flag represents. Today we gather to honor our history. I am delighted that we are one of two cities that raises this flag in the whole entire state of California.” (The other city is San Jose.)
She later went on to say: “Unfortunately we are experiencing a time full of challenges. Challenges where we’re experiencing the worst housing criss in many, many years…threats against our unions and families that work two to three jobs just to sustain a meal on our table and a roof over our head. Let us not forget our responsibility to bring equity forward. Let us not forget that our thriving city, the city of Milpitas, needs to be a place where everybody can thrive.”
Chavez Family Vision, Inc. board members received a commendation from Milpitas.
The celebration continued with dancing, drumming, and singing. Native American Dancers from the Ojibwe and Cree Tribes performed.
And finally: the United Farm Workers flag was raised.
To end the presentation, Councilmember Bob Nuñez went up with the Vice Mayor to lead the César Chavez Unity Clap.